'Shoofly Pie' book design a mystery

By Lindsey Muth
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, April 29, 2004

Disclaimer: This is a bad review of a book. But it's more a bad review of the book's publisher. "Shoofly Pie" could have been better, but it also could have been worse. However, Howard Fiction did some unforgivable things with "Shoofly Pie." Things I have to talk about.

A man is dead in North Carolina, and maybe it isn't a suicide. Forensic entomologist Nick Polchak is enlisted to ... solve the case. But ...

The local law doesn't want that. And ...

This apparent suicide may just be the tip of some kind of evil iceberg. And ...

Dr. Nick Polchak looks like a bug because he has terrible vision and his glasses magnify his eyes. In fact ...

He looks ... like ... a ... FLY ...

Holy shit. If that sounds good so far, just wait. Because "Shoofly Pie" may just rock your universe, and everything in it, until you become crazy and start seeing flies everywhere and change your major to forensic entomology and start saying things like "your species" when referring to humans because you don't think you're human because you think you're some kind of superflyperson. And I don't mean that in the funky, disco kind of way that would be socially mocked but still regarded as somewhat acceptable. I mean it literally, like a super, fly-person.

The first thing that went wrong with "Shoofly Pie" was the fact that I was embarrassed to read it in public. Not because I don't read detective novels or books that are banana yellow with faux blood spatter on the covers - I love those things. I lust for those things. But, the pages of this book are filled with clip-art flies. I just didn't feel cool enough while I read; I felt like a jackass reading a book whose pages are filled with clip-art flies.

Also I felt betrayed by the book's hidden Judeo-Christian messages which are not fair to readers who expect at least R-rated gore, some cussing and, if not sex, then nudity, from their banana yellow detective novels with faux blood spatter. The violence in the novel is glossed over, nobody cusses unless they're "bad," and although there's a little romance, it just isn't taken to that next, more entertaining level - The Sex Level.

Marketing a book to college students under the guise that it's a "CSI"-type novel, and then leaving out the good stuff and weaving in Bible quotes, well that's low. That's dirty dog low. I felt angry and betrayed.

Then I did some detective work of my own. The book's publisher, Howard Fiction, doesn't run its tagline anywhere on the exterior of the book. But, on the bottom of page 373 I found an advertisement for other books by Howard Fiction, and this ... "Where Your Faith Finds A Friend." Aha! Those dirty, religious sneaks!

I felt like I felt when I first found scriptures under my fries at In-N-Out Burger. It's not fair to trick people into eating Christian fries. Similarly with detective novels, the religious stuff should be upfront, or nonexistent. In fact, they should rate books, so that those of us who've come to expect a certain level of lewdness from our crime novels won't be so let down when it just doesn't pan out.

"Shoofly Pie" would be rated PG (with religious content), and if that's your thing ... umm, awesome.